RTTNews - The Australian market snapped its recent rally and ended in negative territory on Wednesday as traders preferred to lock in gains ahead of the start of the earnings season in the country next week. Banks, mining and retail stocks led the decline.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index ended at 4,265, having shed 44.80 points, or 1.04%, and the All-Ordinaries Index ended with a loss of 0.97% or 41.70 points, at 4,272.

In the U.S., stocks ended in positive territory amid choppy trading as positive economic data on pending home sales and personal income & spending more than offset weak earnings results from home-building companies such as Pulte Homes and DR Horton. Buying interest in late session on hopes of recovery helped the indices end above the unchanged line.

The Dow closed up by 33.63 points or 0.4% at 9,320, the Nasdaq advanced by 2.70 points or 0.1% to 2,011 and the S&P 500 rose by 3.02 points or 0.3% to 1,006.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that trade deficit narrowed during the month of June, reflecting a faster rise in exports. The trade deficit stood at a seasonally adjusted A$0.441 billion in June, smaller than the deficit of A$0.737 billion in May, and lower than economists' expectations of a deficit of A$0.8 billion.

In a separate report, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations or DEEWR, revealed that the leading indicator of employment rose for the second consecutive month in August, after falling for 18 successive months. The leading indicator for August stood at minus 0.716 compared to minus 0.781 in July.

Light sweet crude oil price for September delivery ended at $71.30 a barrel in electronic trading, down $0.12 from its previous close $71.42 a barrel in New York on Tuesday.

Retailer David Jones reported a 0.6% rise in sales for the fourth quarter. The company, however, revealed that the outlook for the future is unclear. Following the comments, the share price plunged 8.38%. Among other retailers, Harvey Norman fell 4.28%, but Woolworths managed to edge up 0.45%. Westfield Group gained 0.75% after UBS upgraded its stock rating to neutral from sell.

Mining stocks ended weaker on profit taking. BHP Billiton lost 1.78%, Rio Tinto lost 3.36%, Gindalbie Metals declined 2.26%, Iluka Resources shed 1.79% and Oz Minerals fell 2.67%.

Banks also ended lower on profit taking. ANZ Bank declined 1.74%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 2.88%, National Australia Bank fell 1.59% and Westpac Banking slipped 0.59%.

In oil space, Woodside Petroleum lost 1.65% and Santos shed 0.55%, Oil Search fell 2.46% and Origin Energy declined 2.44%.

Mixed trading was witnessed among gold stocks. Sino Gold lost 3.52% and Newcrest Mining fell 1.89%. However, Lihir Gold bucked the trend and advanced 2.20%.

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